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200 Protest 'Factory Farms' In Iowa

For your info - P. Dines

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From: Brian Hauk, INTERNET:bghauk@berlin.infomatch.com
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
Date: Tue, Feb 4, 1997, 4:38 AM
Subject: 200 Protest 'Factory Farms' In Iowa

200 Protest 'Factory Farms' In Iowa
from the Militant, vol.61/no.6                      February 10, 1997

  DES MOINES - Holding signs saying "Family Farms, Not
Factory Farms" and "Greed and Hog Factories Stink," some
200 farmers, their families, and supporters demonstrated in
the Iowa state capitol after Governor Terry Branstad gave
his annual address on January 14 to open the 1997 state
legislative session. The focus of this rally, sponsored by
the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), was to
protest state government policies that promote the hog
containment facilities.
  Larry Ginter, who raises hogs near Marshalltown, Iowa,
chaired the rally. Ginter won an important victory this
summer against state government attempts to make him remove
a sign, posted on his property, condemning big-business hog
farms and Branstad's support for them.
  Large-scale hog factories, run by capitalist farmers and
corporations, raise thousands of hogs at a time and produce
so much manure that the waste products threaten to
contaminate the water table. Many people get their drinking
water from wells on farms near the hog factories. The
manure lagoons, often near houses, farms, and roads, emit
powerful fumes of ammonia and sulfer compounds that are a
health hazard, in addition to being extremely noxious.
  The size of these facilities makes it difficult for
small producers to compete. Two speakers at the rally said
that in 1996, some 4,000 small hog producers went out of
business. This affects all of the other small businesses
that sell to small family farms, like feed sellers and
  Larry Lewis, who raises 600 hogs near Creston, Iowa,
said he had never been at a protest of any sort before.
"Maybe I can be one more person protesting what these
politicians are doing," he told the Militant. Lewis said he
is concerned about encroachment on surrounding family hog
farms by Farmland Industries in southwestern Iowa.
  The big hog producers have received a helping hand from
the Iowa Legislature with House File 519, a law passed in
1995. While this law did increase constraints on capitalist
hog farmers - modestly increasing the distance required
between manure lagoons and nearby houses and farms, for
example - H.F. 519 contains a nuisance clause which makes
it very difficult for an individual to sue a factory farm
to force them to comply with protective legislation,
including on pollution. The law also explicitly asserts
that local jurisdictions have no zoning power pertaining to
the hog factories, and that the pro-agribusiness Iowa
Department of Natural Resources controls such matters. A
containment facility with less than 5,000 hogs does not
need to meet any special zoning requirements.
  Harold Weidner, who farms in Glidden, Iowa, said he was
at the rally "to save the family farms and the
environment." A new large hog factory has been set up close
to the airport in his area.
  After the rally, participants jammed into a conference
room to confront state legislative leaders members
belonging to the Senate Agriculture Committee, most of whom
are Democrats. The exchange was often sharp, with farmers
taking issue with legislators who sided with the large-
scale hog producers. The weekend after the rally, a Des
Moines Register editorial called for stricter environmental
constraints on pollution of the water supply in central and
northern Iowa by the hog factory operators. Ginter told the
Militant, "I was encouraged by the turnout. As this crisis
deepens, I think we'll see more people come out. The fight
is here, and we're not going to go away."

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